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What? Don't drive too slow? Yes, my friend! There are warning signs. If you are too slow and have caused traffic and there five cars following you, you might get a ticket! Pull over to the side of the road specified for slow moving vehicles and let those cars behind you to pass! Highway 101 is the main access to the Olympic National Park and it has only one lane and if you are too slow busy looking at the views, you better watch out because it might cause traffic!
Updated Sep 13, 2007
Permits are required when you stay overnight at the Olympic National Forest wilderness. There are seven ranger stations where you can obtain permits. Or you can call information. Also, don't use regular maps. You have to use a detailed topographic maps where you can obtain specific trails, primitive trails and pass. This map is called Into Olympic:Wilderness Trip Planner. You should stop by the stations and should inquire about ford locations and difficulty in crossing.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Traveling across snow banks on trails not yet completely free of the previous winter's snow can be tricky if on steep sections. Olympic was still full of snow at the higher elevation when we visited in August of 2008. The High Divide trail was just thawing out and while parts were entirely snow-free, there were still huge drifts of snow on parts not getting afternoon sun. There were a few hairy crossings and in lieu of having an ice axe, a simple hiking pole helps. Keep the pole on your upside. Never use the pole to lean on the downward side in an attempt to even the trail out. Dig your boots in as you walk to create some traction and make a flatter service on which to walk. By having the pole on the upside, if you do slip, you can use it to slow you slide down much as you would an ice axe, though certainly not as effective. The most important thing is to take you time and watch your step.
Updated Nov 14, 2009
Whenever you go into the Olympics, you need tothink hard about the weather. Rainfall is unlike what you find in the eastern US - an hour or so in the late afternoon. Here it rains a week at a time. Maybe not hard, but then again ...... Hikers and campers should be especially be ready. If you are wet, hypothermia can be not far off.
When the weather is grand, the Olympic beauty is of gold medal quality. If the weather forecast is bad, go visit Paul Allen's Music Museum in Seattle or sip coffee at a Starbucks - better yet, a local brew at Big Time Brewpub on the Ave (University Avenue) near the University of Washington (Just ignore all of the purple and gold, which looks an awful lot like yellow and green - NW-oriented joke) - unless you want to see a rainforest in the rain.
Written Nov 25, 2003
Phone: (360) 565-3130
Mountain goats definitely fall into the 'cute' category. They are fairly bold creatures, but won't be much of a problem to you until you decide to do a rock climb, high up on some Olympic ridge somewhere. If you drop your pack, at the rock section -Mt Cruiser in the southeast corner of the Park comes to mind here - your pack becomes a beacon to before-hidden mountain goats. They wait til you are halfway up before making their move. That pack has absorbed so much of your nice salty sweat, it is a mother lode. You know how far a mountain goat has to go to the store for salt? Your pack is like the pizzaman has just delievered. A chewed up pack with no shoulder straps, can be a very hard thing to hike off the mountain with.
Written Nov 25, 2003
Phone: (360) 565-3130
The Olympic Peninsula has massive tides and you need to pay attention to them when walking on the beaches there. This can be as simple as checking the tide charts at the Visitor Center so that you can be on the beach when the tides have just gone out, the optimal time for exploring tide-pools. But the more important thing to remember is that as soon as the tide is at its lowest, it starts coming back in. Remember that some places are only passable at low tide and you can become trapped not being able to return the way you came or worse yet, be crushed by waves against the rocks if you are somewhere underwater at high tide.
Updated Nov 14, 2009
We seriously underestimated all the things you can see on the peninsula and how easy it is to fritter a day away; it's not a place to hurry. We also made a couple of bad decisions that, in hindsight, would have bought us time in places we would better have enjoyed.
We didn't explore:
Cape Flattery/Neah Bay - not part of the park but has an excellent Makah museum and hiking
Ozette area lake and Shi Shi beach
Sol Duc Springs
Kalaloch - drove by but didn't get to spend time on the beach there
Lake Quinault - quick stop
You can hit the highlights in 2-3 days (we had 4) but can easily spend a week here unless you're not interested in spending any time in a pair of hiking shoes. I had mentioned our 11 hours in one day on just 4 of the beaches? Honestly, you can walk for hours and never get tired of them. So my only warning here is to give yourself enough days to see it all and putter a bit when the putterin's good!
Updated Mar 3, 2011
The waters of the Pacific are frigid all year long plus rocks and wave-tossed debris make swimming dangerous here. We saw a couple of surfers at Rialto and down near Ocean Shores: all were experienced, wearing wetsuits and not attempting their rides during extreme high tides. Enjoy the beaches and wade a bit for a better look at the tidepools but swimming isn't recommended.
Unlike many park environments, you are allowed to collect wood and build a nice beach fire on a chilly evening! Gathering is limited to driftwood found on the beaches and you can only build your campfire where high tide will wash away the evidence. Carry that tide table and be aware of when incoming waves will carry off the ashes but not you or your camp supplies. It's OK to pick up a few interesting rocks or empty seashells, too. See the link below on campfires, coastal hiking and other necessary stuff to know.
Written Apr 4, 2010
Big "Twilight" events - like Stephenie Meyer Day (Sept 13) - in Forks can swamp this tiny town with fans. Be sure to check the local calendar and book your accommodations WELL in advance if you're interested in staying here and your visit will coincide with one of these things.
Updated Mar 18, 2010
Weather conditions can change very quickly on the peninsula - especially along the coast. It can be raining buckets one minute and bright and sunny the next. We arrived at beaches under calm, blues skies that turned to windy, grey clouds just moments later. There's just no good way to predict what it's going to be at any hour or at any location so come prepared for anything and everything.
I took these pictures of Second Beach just six minutes apart - this wall of fog just rolled in out of nowhere!
Written Mar 16, 2010
1 Review and 87 Opinions Rain Forest Resort Lodge is one of my favorite stays while at Olympic. On the south shore of Lake...
2 Reviews and 287 Opinions The family gathered here from across the country. Well, it turned out to be only five of us. The...